hilkert ‘grateful’ for time as an owl
Mike Neville – Sports Editor
The choice to make the journey from her home country of Germany to the United States to compete in soccer was an easy one for Nadine Hilkert, a senior on defense.
“One of the main reasons I came to Southern was because of the coaches and the program for psychology,” said Hilkert.
Those coaches, like head coach Adam Cohen did extensive research on Hilkert and was a key part in bringing her to the states.
Cohen said recruiting foreign athletes is far different from recruiting in the U.S., as highlight videos are the main way coaches view athletes.
“We used to be able to travel overseas to meet the athletes, now we have to do diligence on video and making connections over video,” said Cohen.
Starting her career in Germany in 2011 at 12-years-old, Hilkert started playing competitively for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, helping the team win the Volkswagen Cup and the Energy Baden-Württemberg League.
In addition to winning championships in cups, Hilkert also helped her team reach the semifinals in the U17 German Championship.
The way athletic rankings are set up in Europe is different than in the United States in terms of playing for schools.
“In Germany we don’t have school squads, it is a totally different culture compared to what it is like in the U.S.”
Coming from across the world, Hilkert said it was a culture shock when she first arrived at Southern, but not in a negative way.
“It was exciting to learn another culture, to get thrown into it and adjust, we adopted, and it was interesting,” said Hilkert.
Coming to a new country has its own trials and tribulations, and being uprooted and starting a new life, is a sacrifice according to Cohen.
“She’s willing to come to another country to a university she’s never seen takes a lot of courage,” said Cohen.
Being no stranger to championships throughout her career, Hilkert said one of her most memorable moments was reaching the Northeast 10 finals.
Hilkert said “The whole road leading up to it was so emotional, especially since we had a bad season the year before.”
Hilkert said to see the transition from what the whole team was able to do from the previous year was great to see.
Team chemistry is what Hilkert attributes for the team’s success.
“I think that is what enabled us to get so far, soccer is a team sport and we were all working together, everyone put their best effort in,” said Hilkert.
Coach Cohen gave great praise to one of his senior players, describing Hilkert as being ‘the whole package.
“You’re getting an international student athlete, she’s improved, a much better overall athlete, it shows her work rate,” said Cohen.
Cohen said when you get someone coming from a different culture, it complements the team’s culture.
With just under a year left at Southern , taking some time to reflect Hilkert said she is grateful for having the opportunity to compete in soccer over the last four years and make lifelong companions as a Southern Owl.
Photo credit: http://www.southernowls.com